Standpoint

First-person puzzle games are rare enough these days in the gaming scene but it’s typical that an indie developer would take it and make it their own. The most recent project of Unruly Attractions, Standpoint is one such unique game.

Developer:  Unruly Attractions
Publishers: Plug in Digital, Bulkypix
Release Date: 5th March

The main premise behind Standpoint is point of view and perception. The mechanics of the game are based around gravity and how it is affected by our perception. This perception can be changed with a single click on a nearby surface and the player character will switch to that surface; not instantly, but the gravity will switch to that surface. That surface will become ‘down’. It’s an interesting mechanic and due to the first-person nature of the game, this switch is quite fluid but also disorienting. Sometimes the player can be unsure of where their physical body ends, leaving a slight amount of frustration.

But this is a short lived frustration. The game lives off timing and perfection. Mistakes are punished the farther you get as the puzzles become more complicated and involve more switches of perspective. Speed is an integral concept, running is often too slow. But why run when you can fall? Switch your view to a ninety degree angle relative to your character and fall off a nearby edge to give you the required speed.
Most of these puzzles are a mix of these timed areas, buttons are (as always) in need of pushing. Some of these open doors permanently, some require a block to keep down. But here is where things get more interesting. The character is affected by the perspective, but the boxes remain in their own gravity. Down is permanently down for each box. It forces the player to think, completely irregularly to what most puzzles would prefer. It can be likened to Portal or perhaps Antichamber for its use of perspective but to do so is insulting to each game for different reasons. They each boast their own excellent qualities, and Standpoint excels with the use of gravity and what perspective changes relative to it.

There is a story in Standpoint but it’s passed across in disjointed fragments during gameplay until the very end. The game has five sections, one section for each stage of the grieving process. Stage one is denial and as you play a female voice will speak to you. Or perhaps you are the woman and they are your thoughts as you work through a mental palace. There are secrets, generally two per level which offer more information on what is going on. Grief is complicated and terrifying, and this game conveys this through the atmosphere and music.

The levels change in each stage. Denial is quite dark but there’s a smoothness to the music. It’s like this world where her grief doesn’t exist is just beyond the reach, but she doesn’t care. She will pretend it is right in her fist. Anger is very different. The colour palette is almost entirely different shades of red and the music is grating. It screeches at you as you swap perspective, it’s a painful stage. The woman hurls abuse, whether at you the player or herself – either way it is uncomfortable. The stages are all different in their design, which at least keeps the view fresh. The music is well done and suited superbly to each stage. The design of the game cannot really be commented on negatively, each stage has five levels and while they become longer due to increasing difficulty none of them really outstay their welcome.

The game introduces you swiftly to new concepts and there is a nice amount of leeway given early on, but never too much to feel babied. Standpoint is a great example of how a first person puzzler can mess with the player’s head and make them feel uncomfortable while doing so with such raw emotion. Grief and the process of grieving is dangerous territory but it’s treated properly by Unruly Attractions and it results in a puzzle game definitely worth your time.

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